hello! neighbor - bruce & karyn

If you're a serial renovator like me than your ideal husband or partner would be someone like Bruce Lynn. Someone who when you say, "I really wish we had some beautiful built-in bookshelves in our living room or a floating headboard with matching nightstands..." could literally make it happen. Bruce is the builder and designer behind Wood, a local furniture wood working studio in Toronto. His vision and skill is evident throughout his house. All I have to say is -  Karyn you're one lucky woman! Enjoy the tour!

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Names 

Bruce Lynn & Karyn Freedman

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Occupations

Bruce – builder, designer, and owner of wood

Karyn – philosophy professor at the University of Guelph

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Kids, pets?

Neither, though lately Bruce has been angling for a dog.

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Year Home was Built

1910

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How long have you lived in your home?

6 years

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What’s your favorite room and why?

Karyn: The kitchen, hands down. It’s a calm and open space, and easy to work in. It’s the center of activity whenever we entertain. I love that friends hang out on the barstools (under the K & B letter lights I got from Perch ceramics) while I mix up cocktails. We opened up the back wall and now it gets great light during the day. I often start my morning there with a cup of coffee and the paper, curled up on the built-in bench under the big picture window.

Bruce: The basement. It’s my listening room, and I spend every morning there. For decades I carted around my records in milk crates, but now, finally, I have record shelves for them – it feels great.

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How did you find your home?

Karyn: Friends of ours told Bruce about it while I was out of town. He checked it out and knew immediately that this was the house for us. The owner was partway through a renovation when she decided to sell. The upstairs looked fine but the main floor and basement were a disaster! It was basically a demolition zone, which was more or less what we had been looking for. We knew that the only way we could afford to get into the market was to buy a fixer-upper. My family thought we were crazy!

Bruce: We were looking for a house with good bones but which hadn’t been recently renovated. We saw maybe half a dozen houses with a real estate agent – we even put in a bid on one – but we felt as if we’d been thrown into a circus. It was stressful and discouraging. When we landed an opportunity to do a private purchase on a house that fit our wish list we didn’t hesitate.

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Where do you get your inspiration from?

Bruce: I’m inspired by a good challenge, and there was a lot of that in this house project. I also find inspiration in music and art.

Karyn: My mom has a modern aesthetic, and I grew up in a home that had a relaxed, mid-century feel, with lots of natural light and wood built-ins. I think that had an important influence on my own sense of design and it’s a look which continues to inspire me. I also spend an almost obscene amount of time flipping through design magazines and browsing design blogs (the marion house book is a favourite!). I love to see the interesting choices that people make in their homes.

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How did you end up living in Brockton Village?

Karyn: We live in Brockton Village, just next to Parkdale. We had both been living in the west end for years and didn’t want to leave the area. We love this part of town. It feels like home to us. The neighborhood is great, quiet and friendly, and close to all the new shops and restaurants on Dundas and Queen.

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What did your home look like when you first saw it? What work have you done on it to make it your own?

Bruce: The previous owner had been in the process of turning the house into a two-unit rental property. The main floor and basement were half demolished while the upstairs was already functioning as a self-contained apartment. We spent the first three years up there while we worked on the main floor and basement. We took the house back to the brick and rebuilt it from the ground up, doing much of the work ourselves. We moved slowly, partly because that’s what we could afford but also because we wanted to get a sense of the space before we made certain decisions about form and function.

Karyn: We did a ton of work in those first few years but it was all behind the scenes, so it wasn’t much to look at. But since then we’ve moved onto the fun stuff. Bruce has built us new staircases, a kitchen, and some beautiful shelving units. His handiwork is all over the house! It’s been a long process and we’re not quite done yet, but we love it.

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What would your dream house look like?

Bruce: I sure hope it looks like this!

Karyn: This might be it.

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What was the last thing you purchased for your home?

Bruce: Karyn found our dining room chandelier on Etsy. It’s the finishing touch on our main floor.

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Thanks Bruce and Karyn for inviting us into your home!

All photos by Kristin Sjaarda for The Marion House Book.